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New survey reveals Australians’ food security is the biggest cost of living concern

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As part of Savvy’s ongoing research into consumer sentiment and the impact of economic trends on everyday Australian life, we survey Australian adults on how they are navigating the continuing cost of living crisis. 

  • 62% of Australians cite grocery prices as the greatest ongoing concern 
  • Almost all demographics and states/territories highlight grocery prices as the biggest issue 
  • 68% of people surveyed said they are cutting back on non-essential expenses to make ends meet 
  • 67% of women and 58% of men cite the cost of groceries as the biggest concern 

A representative national survey of 1,000 adult Australians has revealed that 62% of respondents say that the cost of groceries or food has caused the greatest amount of concern amid the cost-of-living crisis. 

Petrol or fuel was the second biggest concern (47%) with utility bills coming in a close third (46%). 

Far more women (67%) considered food and groceries their greatest concern in comparison to men (58%.) 

All demographics except the 18-24-year-old cohort cited groceries as their primary concern; the 18-24s said that petrol or fuel costs as the biggest cost-of-living concern (61%).  

For the 35-44s, groceries (58%) and mortgage repayments (57%) were almost of equal importance. All demographics over the age of 45 said that groceries were the biggest issue followed by utility bills. Respondents in all states and territories showed a clear majority for groceries being the biggest cost-of-living issue. 

Despite headline inflation or the Consumer Price Index easing to 5.4% in the September quarter of 2023, it’s still double the Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation target of 2-3%. As a lever against inflation, the RBA raised interest rates from a record low of 0.1%p.a. to 4.35%p.a. over 2022 to 2023, with 10 consecutive rises from May 2022 to March 2023. 

Over two-thirds (68%) of Australians are cutting back on non-essential expenses to deal with rising costs of living, broken down into 63% of men and 73% of women. 58% said they were seeking cheaper alternatives to higher-priced items, while 20% said they were seeking additional sources of income. Only 7% said they weren’t making any adjustments. 

“While rising cost of expenses such as rent, mortgage repayments or even fuel are big issues, none affects everyone in the same way as food does,” said Adrian Edlington, Savvy spokesperson and money expert. 

“We all need to eat and the hike in grocery bills is both dramatic and obvious. To save on groceries, people will no doubt already be buying more generic brand items, shopping at bulk outlets and waiting for specials. The issue is that even by doing so, the savings are not enough to reduce financial pressure on many individuals and families.” 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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